Residents Back Home on the Region 23 Complex Fire

All evacuation orders previously in place were lifted as of 6:30 P.M. last evening and residents displaced by the evacuations were allowed to return to their homes. At this time all utilities have been restored. Any concerns should be reported to the local utilities companies. Chadron State Park and Hudson-Meng Bison Bone Beds remain closed.

Fire fighters have been taking advantage of favorable weather conditions to improve and strengthen fire lines.  To date, the West Ash and Douthit Fires have burned 88,188 acres and are 75% contained.

Continued progress has been made in removing snags and hazard trees along roads, near houses, and extinguishing hot spots in fuels that are near containment lines and structures.  Pockets of fuels continue to burn up within the interior of the fire. Residents should expect to see smoke for the next several days and be careful when walking or moving around in the forested areas for trees that may be hung-up or weakened at the base of the tree by fire damage.

The focus on the fire will now be on rehabilitation where fire suppression has impacted federal, state and private lands. A Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) Team has arrived.  The BAER Team assesses post-fire conditions and makes recommendations to protect our natural and cultural resources.  A variety of techniques may be used such as: reseeding of ground cover, constructing straw bale dams or placing fallen trees to catch sediment on steep slopes.

Safety of firefighters and public continues to be the number one objective for the incident. There have been no reportable injuries or accidents.   “We remain committed to putting out this fire with zero injuries, and that has been accomplished thanks to the leadership and professionalism of all folks on the team.” stated Incident Commander Joe Lowe during the morning operational briefing.

Residents should be aware that while demobilization and rehabilitation is occurring, firefighters are still working the fire line.  Please be aware of heavy vehicle traffic and smoke in the area.  The community is encouraged to call the Fire Information Center with questions or concerns at (308) 665-1310 or (308) 665-1316.  

Fire management and fire fighters would like to express their appreciation to the communities and land owners for their support and cooperation during the changing and often challenging conditions of the fire.

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